Unrelenting Black Metal! 1349 – Steel Mill Interview

Interview by Heather Williams

Time for some unrelenting black metal! Norway’s 1349 blows you away and unleashes a brutal, unforgiving, demonic assault on your soul, taking you to the dark, shadowy realms of Hell. I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing band’s guitarist Archaon.

First, let us get to something cool. You guys just recently signed with Season of Mist Records for a worldwide release deal. Are you in the process then of making a new album?

Thanks! Yes, we are currently writing material for the next album, which will be handled by Season of Mist worldwide. We, as you might know, already have relations to the label, albeit only on US shores, so this is something that we regard as highly exciting indeed.

Tell us also of all upcoming festivals/shows/tours for this year and even next year if possible, to give fans a heads up?

Well, we’ve got a string of shows lined up during the summer. We are scheduled to play Leyendas of Metal- festival in Spain before Summer Breeze in Germany. There might of course also be more shows added to this list. We have to play it by ear and see what comes up.

Can you please tell us about Alvheim? Is the band still active? Any demos or albums we can listen to?

As far as I know, that was 20 years ago and no interest from any parties to resurrect this band. It was however where a few 1349 members met and united, before 1349 was formed.

How did you come up with such a unique, interesting name like 1349?

It was Ravn’s idea to name the band after the year the bubonic plague hit Norway and took the lives of 2/3rds of its population. It was chosen because it’s suitable link to our music’s raw, brutal nature.

Ravn sang and played drums at the start of the bands formation in 1997. Why did he cease playing drums three years later in 2000 and bring drummer Frost from Satyricon in? Frost has remained steadfastly with the band since then.

Because we needed a faster drummer who could handle the altered, then-new music of 1349. It had become far faster and intricate than 1349 at its demo stages.

1349 has been around for twenty years. What has kept you guys going for so long?

I know, right? Quite an accomplishment to keep it up like that… But when that’s said: The ever-burning passion for dark, heavy music and art is at the core of the band, as it has always been. We have more sparks to ignite, you will see…

Lars “Balfori” Larsen and Andre “Tjvalve” Kvebek were both there at the band’s formation with Balfori leaving a year later and Tjvalve leaving in 2006. What are the stories behind their departures?

Balfori was part of 1349 very briefly, as far as I’ve been told, and has since joined a band called Lunaris. Tjalve was a part of 1349 for the first three albums and is now active with several bands, both within and outside Black Metal, I believe.

1349 has had four touring drummers since Frost joined in 2000. Did you have to bring them in because of Frost’s commitments to Satyricon? How do you guys maintain that balance between 1349 and Satyricon duties? Why has it been so important for Frost to remain a member of 1349?

1349 are us four; Ravn, Seidemann, Frost and myself. We have our ways of creating our art, in which we get along and work in the most constructive ways. However, as you mentioned- Frost is occasionally busy with his other band Satyricon’s obligations, something that we’ve learned to work our way around with some very capable drummers helping us out.

1349 has played many festivals and tours around the world with many great bands such as Triptykon, Carcass, Suffocation, Aborted, Cannibal Corpse, and Skeletonwitch, which is awesome. It is amazing being able to play in many different countries around the world and meeting metal heads of different cultural backgrounds. What has been an experience that has stood out the most for the band/you while on the road be it bad or good?

It’s a privilege to get to do this to the extent that we do. Metal as a genre is constantly evolving (even if not always in a direction that suits my liking), and we’ve had the pleasure of touring with some pretty awesome acts, yes. I guess you forgot Celtic Frost above, which was fantastic too. One thing that I remember vividly was the jam on 70 000 tons of metal with Barney (Napalm Death, Orion (Behemoth), Stu (Venom), Janne (Ensiferum) and myself, playing Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath”. That was pretty neat. Apart from that, it’s countless of great times, and also many struggles to make the show going on.

Some 1349-albums I had questions about:

A. Your first demo came out in 1998. Is there no title? Please explain?

That was a demo that was called “Chaos Preferred” that was sent out to a few labels. This is prior to me and Frost joining, so the line-up was Ravn, Tjalve & Seidemann.

B. “Beyond The Apocalypse” is my favourite album out of all 1349 records. Some songs on this album deviate from the traditional Norwegian black metal sound of the “Liberation” disc. “Aiwass Aeon” and “Singer of Strange Songs” are both fucking amazing! I love the old school 80’s thrash metal element in “Aiwass”. “Singer of Strange Songs” so perfectly dark and heavy. What are the whispering words at the end of the album in the song “The Blade”?

Thanks, I still appreciate that album a lot myself too. Something magical happened right there, we tapped onto a nerve that would secure our development on an exciting path. I’d be bold and say… The whispering words are a poem/lyrics, I do not remember them. But “Beyond the Apocalypse” definitely brought 1349 further from the debut full-length “Liberation”, into more progressive and innovative ways-something that I’m still very proud of.

C. On the album “Hellfire”, “I Am Abomination” has an insane guitar riff! It’s said you guys intentionally made the length of the closing song “Hellfire 13:49” to spell out the band’s name. What was the idea behind doing that? Would you consider this album to be more in the vein of progressive black metal?

“Hellfire” was the album that kind of paved way for us into more interest at many different holds. It’s got high quality material on it for sure, and reflects a very hungry, very potent band. The title track at the end was close to the length (I believe 13:20 or so), so it seemed like a cool curiosity to extend a little to get them numbers in the display.

D. “Revelations Of The Black Flame”: This album slows down a lot and totally deviates away from your traditional sound. It’s a cool, interesting album, mostly instrumental with a variety of sound effects. How did you get those sound effects of people screaming etc. on some songs such as “Invocation” and “Horns”? Tom Gabriel Fischer co-mixed this album. Does he lend his voice on any of the songs? One song “Serpentine Sibliance” sounded like he was singing on it.

At this stage, this was something that felt natural for us to do for a variety of reasons. I get that people turned away though… It is a lot to ask acceptance for something that different, perhaps. But anyway; Tom produced it yes, and even played some (I believe on the Pink Floyd-cover). However; it seems to me a lot of people have come to find their liking for it with time, as the oddball in 1349’s discography.

E. “Demonoir”: My second favourite. This album goes back to your original form but with a darker tone. I feel a darkness when listening to it. The song “Devil of the Deserts” has a beautiful piano piece at the end of the song. Who is playing the piano?

“Demonoir” is, in my eyes, the most brutal and eerie album we’ve done. It has a lot of interesting twists and turns on it and showcases our black art in a more technical way, I suppose. It held many grand challenges at the time and it took every single bit of effort from everyone involved. The piano was performed by a pianist called Tony Caputo, formerly in a 70’s prog band called Lynx. He happened to be around, and strummed along on the piano- and we recorded it and asked for his permission to include it, something that worked wonders.

F. “Massive Cauldron Of Chaos”: This is a solid album and it sounds like there are some death metal elements in the mix. Someone brought up the point that all the other 1349 albums have black covers except this one. What is with the white album cover?

Simply something different to suit the contrasting dark musical art in the sound contents. The idea was Frost’s but we all liked it, hence the choice of colour on the cover. 1349 are always looking into extending/broadening our horizons when it comes to our art. As far as the music goes, MCOC was 1349 exploring black metal through a scope of tribute, merging our fancy for bands like Bathory and the early Black Metal wave from Norway, with the classics such as Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Mötorhead and Blue Öyster Cult, to mention a few. The fact that we’ve always drawn inspiration from many sources in the harder forms of music (particularly thrash & death besides black metal) is quite evident on this album, I believe. It did clearly re-position us in certain circles and brought us further on the path that we’re on.

You emphasize the concept of “Aural Hellfire” as being the primary concept of the band. You also mention the album “Revelations of the Black Flame” being slower, darker, and more ambient while still retaining the “spirit of Aural Hellfire”. Explain what the “spirit” of Aural Hellfire is. How do you create that effect? Does it come naturally to you guys as a unit or do you intentionally create it?

As far as the genre Black Metal goes, individuality on the path that one’s on holds a crucial torch- burning bright and casting its shadows. Everyone will at some point enter the search for his or her own core and be affected by this in one way or another. The grand chance that it holds has proved to be highly beneficial in a perspective of art- be that musically or other ways- something that we are taking advantage of in 1349. It’s inside of us, at the same time as it nails us firmly to the task of creating further offerings in the name of the great powers that lies in the words: Aural Hellfire. In turn, it is part of us.

1349 Black Pale and Pale Ale. What brought about this idea? How has that venture been going for you guys?

On the US tour we did with Tryptikon in 2010, we met Todd Haug (currently with Three Floyds brewing) who at that time worked at Surly brewing. Frost & myself were hanging out in the bar where he came over, and we started talking about beer. Since then, we’ve developed a good friendship and met up several times- in 2014 also together with the Norwegian brewery Lervig. The two breweries and 1349 together brew our first beer, the” 1349 Black ale”. Thereafter, we took a rather opposite angle and brewed the “1349 Pale ale”. A new beer is currently also in the works… Let’s see what the future holds! We are all very passionate about beer in 1349 and have tasted quite some beers during the last 7 years.

Where in your opinion do the roots of Norwegian black metal lie?

I struggle to answer the one-dimensional question… That depends on your angle: Whether you mean the musical genre, the way of living or the spirit inside. The bottom line lies in the trinity, a combination of these I’d believe. Musically, Bathory has a lot of what I think of in connection with today’s scene, together with a handful of Norwegian bands. However- there were also those who came before…

Thank you so much for this awesome interview.

Likewise, thanks!

Interview By Heather Williams

To find out more on 1349 check out following sites:

http://legion1349.wdex.siteman.no/

https://www.facebook.com/1349official/

Band photos: Ester Segarra

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